2024 Executive Award: Kristine Spekkens

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Kristine Spekkens as the winner of the 2024 CASCA Executive award, recognizing her sustained contributions in service that have strengthened the Canadian astronomical community and enhanced its impact nationally and internationally, in particular through the key role she has played in enabling Canada’s joining the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) as a full member in 2023.

Prof. Spekkens began her faculty career in Canada in 2008 after receiving her PhD in 2005 from Cornell University. In the last 15 years, Prof. Spekkens has served on four CASCA committees: Nominating (2022 – present), Equity and Inclusivity 2016-2022 (chair, 2020-2022), Awards 2013-2016 (chair 2014-2016), Ground-Based Astronomy (2011-2013) and on the CASCA Board (2016-2019). She also served on the ACURA TMT advisory council (2017-22), and was vice chair of the 2015 Long Range Plan mid-term review.

Dr. Spekkans also served as a Canadian representative on many international committees including the Visiting Review Committee for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (Australia, 2023), the External Proposal Review Committee for FAST (China, 2023), the NRAO TAC (US, Chair, 2018-19), and NRAO Extragalactic Science Review Panel (2017-19). These many roles testify to the esteem in which the community and external agencies hold Prof. Spekkens’ judgment.

It is in service related to the SKA Observatory that Prof. Spekkens has played her most critical roles. She
currently serves on the ACURA Advisory Council on the SKA (2017-present), as the Canadian SKA Science Director (2019-present) and as vice-chair of the SKA’s Science and Engineering Advisory Committee (SEAC; 2023-present, committee member since 2021 and previously 2017-19). These roles along with her tireless efforts to advocate on behalf of the Canadian astronomy community were integral to Canada becoming a treaty member of this historic observatory.

Overall, Prof. Spekkens’ service to the Canadian community has been myriad and of the highest quality. She has had a significant impact in enhancing research done by all Canadian astronomers. Her commitment to our community makes her extremely deserving of the CASCA Executive award for 2024.

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